On Being Agender – Update

image

Being Me

I originally wrote this two years ago and since then some things have changed and/or I have become more comfortable with. I want to clarify what my particular gender identity is and is not. For me it’s about not being defined by gender which is why I call myself agender. I want to be free to be who I am without constantly censoring myself. I think some confusion arises when people confuse non-binary genders with people who identify with the opposite sex from a binary perspective. I don’t identify as a woman or a man. As an agender person I am genderless; I am beyond gender and am a mixture of traits and style associated with masculinity and femininity as well as a mix of young and old and a bunch of other traits, likes and passions thrown into the mix.

image(Graphic from Hell Yeah Agender)

The issue of dysphoria also is part of the discussion. Dysphoria is the feeling of disconnect and sometimes revulsion with the parts of your body that identity you, to most cis gender people, as either male or female. At first I felt I didn’t have those feelings which is why I identified non-binary and not a trans woman. Now I recognize that I do in fact have dysphoria in some aspects of my life. First let me tackle the non gender related stuff I feel uncomfortable with. I’d love to be thinner. Yes, I lost weight and have continued to do slow slowly. I am left with excess skin in places and, sadly, the fat doesn’t always come off where you want it to. I am hairy and would like to be less hirsute so recently (November of 2016) I shaved a good bit of my hair off. Now I know all women aren’t naturally hair free that’s why there are women’s razors. Hell, if there are bearded ladies why not a bearded agender person?  Nonetheless I have shaved and am becoming more and more pleased with the result. I am editing this from a previous version and notice that my feelings have evolved in the year and a half or more since I originally wrote this.

As I have become more and more comfortable with myself I find something interesting happening. I have become uncomfortable going out dressed in a more masculine manner. This is different from feeling less anxious which can be the feeling when I am dressing more masculine as a way of feeling safe in a taxi with an unknown driver. This feeling though, is more about clothing feeling right for me as a person . I realize this means I feel dysphoria dressing more masculine and less dysphoria dressing more feminine.   As for my “bits” I am comfortable with them. I am a small person “down there” anyway so there is not much to be dysphoric about anyway. 🙂 Sorry if that was to much information but what’s a few inches, (very few), among friends. Ouch, I can’t believe I wrote that back then but since it still applies I will leave it in.

image

Now let’s get to how I want to decorate my body. This is what is known as gender expres-sion as opposed to gender identity. I  originally wrote “I want to feel comfortable wearing a skirt and knee high socks as part of an outfit that includes clothes some may consider male or unigender/unisex.” I am please to report that I DO feel more comfortable dressing more feminine.  I am beginning  to wear makeup more often. It is usually just concealer, different shades of powder and  lipstick. Still there are times when I feel like just going out as is. It’s about being authentic and just being myself without constantly looking over my shoulder and worrying I’ll be verbally or physically attacked for my wardrobe choices.

I discussed in my coming out piece two years ago how much of my gender identity is related to how I feel inside. The fact is that I have always preferred a personality that some consider feminine. I am a nurturing and gentle presence or try to be. I reserve any anger for systems and people who want to deny me and my LGBTQIA family equal rights or fail to act to save our lives as was the case in the first decade if the AIDS crisis and is true now in the inadequate response to violence perpetrated by haters against LGBTQIA people. I guess what I’m saying is I feel like a mama bear protecting my family.

Perhaps an even better way of looking at it is that between white and black in the visual light spectrum, are all the wonderful colors that the human eye can see. That’s where non-binary genders come in; filling up the gender palette with many different identities just like light breaks up into many different colors when passing through a prism.

Bisexuals face skepticism about their orientation from people who think their clinging to heterosexual privilege. Similarly people with non-binary gender identities, particularly if they were assigned male at birth, are accused of hanging onto male privilege. Neither bisexuals or people with non-binary gender identities are trying to cling onto privilege. In fact if you speak out and are open about your sexual orientation or gender identity you open yourself up for criticism. In my case being perceived as someone who flaunts wardrobe convention and behavioral expectations opens me up to not just verbal abuse but physical abuse as well. That’s the sad reality of a prejudice known as transmisogyny. Trans femme non-binary people like me as well as trans women are disrespected because of the feminity we embrace. Sadly society is still very sexist and that sexism is reflected in misogyny in the case of cis-women and transmisogyny in the case of trans women and trans femme non-binary people like me.So, despite the prejudices and other barriers I just want to be me. The REAL ME! The only thing holding me back is fear and I am  still chipping  away at fear like it was a marble statue. As I’m chipping away more of the real me is revealed to the world!


Scroll down to the bottom of this post to view my piece for Trans Day of Visibility, including a look at the new me!

Here is a great comic from Chaos Life, created by the talented artist A. Stiffler, that defines agender from the perspective of someone designated female at birth (so I am a bit different but not in what really matters):

image

one more graphic I can’t resist, pardon the language:

image

Finally here’s my post for Trans Day of Visibility:

I’m Agender and Part of The Trans Community #TransgenderDayOfVisibility

Name: Jerry aka Fairy JerBear

Gender Identity: Agender (neither male or female – beyond gender)

Sexual Orientation: Queer

I came out first as a gay man, then Queer many years ago. Then 8 months ago I came out as Agender. I had always felt that I wasn’t really male but I didn’t feel female either. When I came out as gay and later queer their was no real understanding about non-binary gender identities. You were either transsexual or just an effeminate gay man. There was a movement that merged sexual orientation and gender non-conformity called the Radical Faeries which I admired. It’s founder Harry Hay, felt that gay people were set aside as special to serve as a bridge between genders. Unfortunately the majority of gay men went in the direction of insisting that they were just like straight people except for who they loved. Then along came Queer Nation which radicalized gay politics and rebelled against the mainstreaming of gay culture. They are still around but the focus is radical politics now.

Finally a few things happened for me. A former neighbor of mine identified themselves as genderqueer. I still didn’t recognize myself because what I saw, (I know better now), was more a phenomenon restricted to people who were designated female at birth presenting in a masculine way. Then along came a news story that put all the pieces together. You remember the story from three year’s ago about an agender teen in Berkley/Oakland, California who was riding a bus when their skirt was set on fire! A boy, presuming the skirt wearer to be a boy as well, acted on impulse and set the skirt wearer’s skirt on fire. In any case, as I read how this person, Sasha Fleishman, came to their gender identity I finally realized that their identity was also mine. I love the idea of being beyond gender, of behaving and dressing without regard for gender roles. I like the idea of mix and matching your wardrobe from all of the clothing open to people. A shirt from the men’s section here, a skirt from the women’s there and so on. It was a totally liberating feeling.

I was aided in my coming out as Agender by the wealth of information on tumblr from other non-binary identified people. I owe my new life to people decades younger than I am. I sometimes feel like an honorary millennial. 🙂 I was afraid of how I’d be accepted by those who were binary transgender people but I needn’t have worried the response from the Trans community I’ve connected with has been very welcoming. I’m sure there are pockets of prejudice all around but those are in the minority. I am proud to be part of the Trans Community. I love giving back by, for example, providing some feedback on issues that arise in numerous Facebook non-binary/agender groups I belong to. Sometimes I help others and sometimes they help me. I have become active with the Santa Fe, New Mexico Trans community and marched with them in my first two LGBTQIA Pride events as a part of the community. This is me a chubby, disabled, queer, agender person over (gasp), 55:

image

The photo above was taken around two years ago. So, to go along with this December 2016 update, I will show you my latest photo in the form of a meme:

img_1951

image

More on my story here and here and here.

3 Responses to On Being Agender – Update

  1. I feel happy to know you better, I’m very glad the trans community has such an intelligent, informed, and compassionate member, and those tights are too awesome for words… xx

    • Thanks, those actually are knee high socks but thanks to my disproportionately short legs they do create the look of tights. I got them at a store common to malls in the U.S. that sell all kinds of alternative stuff. While I’m at it I should say that I really admire your writing and activism as well. I guess we have what us known as a “mutual admiration society,” 😀

      • I’m not sure I’m strident enough to be a proper activist, but I’ve been outspoken enough to have some nasty invective and intentional misgendering hurled my way, so I guess I’ve passed the initiation… I prefer your seal of approval though. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s